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Member Profile February 2017



Mr. Richard Lacasse during his participation in an international cooperative seminar organized by SOCODEVI in Trujillo, Peru. In this country, SOCODEVI contributes to the improvement of the living conditions of 4000 families of agricultural producers in the context of its PRODIVCOM project.

This month, CCIC met with Richard Lacasse, Executive Director at SOCODEVI, to discuss the meeting between SOCODEVI members and Minister Bibeau, the vision of SOCODEVI for the future and expectations after the International Assistance Review, among other things!

CCIC - Minister Bibeau has recently visited SOCODEVI and has met with 150 partners from your network of cooperatives and mutuals. What would you say was the main message of Minister Bibeau to your partners, and vice versa? 

Richard Lacasse - The Minister delivered a stimulating and optimistic message to our members, partners and guests, insisting on the need to put women at the heart of development initiatives in poverty reduction strategies, ensuring in particular their empowerment. She has also stressed the importance of strengthening the skills of women and men as an essential means to achieve this greater empowerment.

On that occasion, SOCODEVI also presented a short video, "10 reasons why co-operatives are a lever for the empowerment of women", a document which is now available online on our communication platforms.  The meeting also helped to emphasize the natural role that cooperatives play in the promotion of inclusive economic growth, in the creation of fair partnerships and in capacity-building because of their DNA.


CCIC - SOCODEVI is a network of cooperative societies and mutuals. How would you describe this unique model and this approach to international cooperation? What is its main strength?

Richard Lacasse - The model of SOCODEVI has an extraordinary force because it can count on the experience and expertise of cooperatives and mutuals from all sectors in Quebec. These are organizations that make available to their partners in the South know-how, expertise and adapted tools based on actual experiences related to sustainable development and the implementation of solutions to promote inclusive economic growth and resolve serious poverty and inequality problems.

We must remember that nearly a billion people are part of co-operatives around the world, with more than a million cooperatives, and that they contribute to the creation of nearly 250 million jobs. Moreover, we should stress that the FAO acknowledges co-operatives as a tool to reduce hunger and poverty, and that the International Labor Office acknowledges co-operatives as a tool for job promotion and creation.


CCIC - SOCODEVI recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Over the years, you have conducted more than 400 projects and 650 technical assistance missions. What is your vision for the future of the organization?

Richard Lacasse - SOCODEVI wants to excel and be recognized globally for its implementation of innovative and adapted solutions for the development of perennial cooperatives, mutuals or associations, which will provide quality services to their members and to their community, to enable them to become references in their environment in terms of social and economic performance, and to have an impact on the improvement of the living conditions of the populations.  An ambitious program, but we are convinced that we must strive to reduce inequalities and create opportunities to eliminate poverty.  As the slogan of the International Year of Cooperatives, declared by the United Nations in 2012, said: Co-operatives are businesses to build a better world.



CCIC - SOCODEVI participated in the International Assistance Review (IAR) in 2016. While there isn't yet an official commitment, what do you expect from the government in terms of strengthening the community of CSOs working in international development and humanitarian aid?

Richard Lacasse - The consultation document of the International Assistance Review stressed that "we must build on our comparative advantages and put in place more innovative programs and partnerships in order to obtain lasting results".  One of the comparative advantages of Canada is the expertise of its recognized sectors of excellence, which must be put forward even more.  Canadian civil society organizations, which offer great expertise and who have a strong reputation around the world, are part of these comparative advantages of Canada.

The co-operatives in Canada are one of these sectors of excellence. They are regarded as world leaders in this regard, and are part of Canadian values.  There is a real opportunity in the context of the International Assistance Review to further strengthen the  partnership between the Government of Canada and its exceptional partners to contribute more effectively to the delivery of aid and development  cooperation programs.


CCIC - SOCODEVI has been a member of CCIC since the fall of 2015. Why have you made the decision to join CCIC?

Richard Lacasse - It is important to have a strong voice to ensure that the development cooperation agenda is effectively promoted amongst the Canadian population, and with government officials in Canada in particular. We also think it is important to have a place of exchange, enrichment, practice-sharing and ideas to advance the cause of development.



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